Solar research at Bradford

“Is the Sun Turning Off?” is the title given to Professor Valentina Zharkova’s British Science Festival event, based on solar research and its effects on human health.

The last 3 years have seen an unusual decrease in solar activity. Professor Zharkova’s research is investigating why this has happened, and the potential consequences on the Earth’s climate and human health.

Solar activity goes largely unreported in mainstream society, but has crucial effects on human health. The magnetic fields of the Earth and of the sun interact, meaning solar flares impact on both the earth and its inhabitants.

Increased solar activity means an increase in radiation. This adds to the amount of vitamin D2 available, and boosts the immune system. However, solar flares (which rapidly increase the amount of radiation from the sun), can have negative effects.

Professor Zharkova said:

“It is much more difficult to protect against radiation from the sun, than from UV light. What we’d like to see is the solar forecast included in the weather forecast, as we already know that there is correlation between solar activity and strokes, as well as heart attacks.”

The last solar flare, in 2009, shut down a satellite. Forecasted information about solar activity would enable satellites to be temporarily switched off, protecting them from the radiation.

The impacts of this research are wide-reaching, as it is one of the most important issues facing humanity today. Professor Zharkova would like to see an increased public awareness, as well as an influence in policy making.

“Is the Sun Turning Off?” will include a number of talks by solar researchers from the University of Bradford, Imperial College London, University of Bristol, and Reading University.